The new iPad sold 3 million units in its first three days, and if you think these new tablet owners plan to limit the device’s use to just fun and games, think again. The use of mobile devices in enterprise settings, such as the construction jobsite, is on the rise due to the value add such devices offer. In fact, the influx of devices in the consumer marketplace is contributing to a trend called BYOD (bring your own device).

Devices such as smartphones and tablets add value to the construction industry in a number of ways, including providing access to the cloud document storage, enhanced methods of realtime communication, and on-the-spot methods for capturing a build’s progress. In many cases, construction professionals can also take advantage of industry-specific productivity apps designed for these devices.

With mobile technology, disparate team members have access to the same information, which can be updated as needed without the risks associated with a time delay. By mobilizing workflow processes on the construction jobsite, owners and GCs (general contractors) can increase efficiency, productivity, and therefore, the bottomline.

As a result, devices in use in the enterprise space are a growing trend. New data from TechSci Research, www.techsciresearch.com, Burnaby, B.C., suggests 30% of overall demand for tablets will be driven by the enterprise during the next five years.

Similarly, a study from Gartner, www.gartner.com, Stamford, Conn., predicts by 2013, 80% of IT businesses will support a workforce using tablets. Interestingly, Gartner also predicts by 2014, 90% of these tech-savvy businesses will support “corporate applications on personal devices.”

Due to the influx of devices such as tablets into the marketplace, more and more companies are allowing their employees to use personal devices to help them while on the job. This trend has been labeled by many as “BYOD,” or more specifically, BYOT (bring your own tablet).

TechSci Research suggests the iPad from Apple, www.apple.com, Cupertino, Calif., made up 90% of the overall enterprise market in 2011; but the construction industry has other options when it comes to tablets that may be better suited to stand up the rigors of the jobsite.

For instance, Panasonic, www.panasonic.com, Secaucus, N.J., offers an Android-powered line of tablets optimized for rugged applications. Available in 10-inch and 7-inch configurations, Panasonic’s A1 and B1 Toughpads offer optional wireless cellular connectivity, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and GPS.

Each configuration is water and dust resistant, giving construction workers the flexibility to bring the device into the field even if conditions are not ideal. On the software side of things, Panasonic’s enterprise app store, the Business AppPortal, offers vertical-specific applications in addition to Android Market applications.

As manufacturers continue to produce devices that can straddle the line between personal and enterprise uses, the trend is likely to continue. As construction companies begin to adopt BYOD (or BYOT) models, companies will need to determine the best way to manage disparate operating systems and other compatibility issues among devices in the workplace.